Writers know that to write, you need to read, read, read. Not only is it helpful to read in your own genre, but to also get outside of it and read other genres and styles. Read about writing and read good writing.
Any of the following books will boost your writing…but don’t just put them on your shelves – take them down and read them!
Stephen King’s On Writing
Not just a good read for the fiction writer, this book will inspire anyone with an aspiration to write. Written as a memoir as well as a writing tool, King gives us his personal story, complete with his struggles, along with excellent writing advice that anyone can put to use.
Chip Heath & Dan Heath’s Made to Stick, Why some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Kind of like going back to the basics, the Heath brothers remind writers to say it simply and say it strong. This easy-to-read book focuses on grabbing the reader, keeping his attention, and getting your ideas to stick.
Full of great advice and witty examples, this book on communication will benefit anyone interested in writing for any kind of audience.
Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style
This classic style guide’s longevity has survived for a reason – it’s valuable. Though writing styles do change through the years, this is a book that should sit proudly on every writer’s shelf. Many writers used it as a textbook and/or bible in writing classes, and it can still guide any of us along today as a guide to English style and correct usage.
William Zinsser’s On Writing Well
This is another great resource that will guide any writer – from student, to professional, to all in between – through the many aspects of the writing world, from finding a voice to fine tuning rewrites. Required in many writing classes, it is one to hold on to. If you’ve never had to have it, it’s a great add-on to that shelf.
Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life
To see the importance of reading on writing, this book should have a place on your shelf. Conroy recounts his youth and the love of reading that inspired him to be the writer he is, and it will in turn inspire anyone to be a better writer (and reader).
Lynn Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves
Truss, an English journalist, shows us the importance of correct and proper punctuation through the use of witty examples that not only get her point across, but will stick with you long after you’ve put the back on your shelf. She is a strong advocate of correct punctuation and grammar, despite the current take on ‘less is more’.
A Book (or Two…) by Your Favorite Writer
Whether it is by J.K. Rowling, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Grisham, Ernest Hemingway, or Charles Dickens, hold on to your favorite novels – the ones you can crack open at any time and reread your favorite passages, the ones you know by heart and hold dear like a good friend. These are the ones that will inspire you to write and to write your best.
Keep your shelves well stocked with good books – those that are about writing, those that are well written, those written to teach, and those written to elicit response.
Think of your shelf like your mind’s refrigerator: Stock it well and you will always be well fed.
Heather Legg is a freelance writer who keeps her bookshelves well stocked…a little too well stocked. She writes on a variety of topics from owning your own business to her dog to internet reputation topics for Reputation.com.